Depending on how you do the math, there are between a quarter-million and a million words in the English language… Of all these hundreds of thousands of words, only one do I hold in contempt. That word is “like”—not the tepid expression of mild appreciation but the parasitic form that now bleeds the mother tongue, marks the user as a dunce, and, were it truly understood, scandalizes our schools.
No word has less meaning or says as much about what has become of education.
Raised and educated in 1990s New Jersey, I cop to over-using my share of the odious “like,” especially in my middle-school years. It became a verbal tic, a catch-all and a way to temper opinions, avoid absolutes and generally allow me to abdicate intellectual responsibility for what came out of my mouth. Stuff I said didn’t really like, mean anything.
In pursuit of a certain voice or style of prose, I find I still fall back on crutch words similar to “like.” In that spirit, I submit that the following phrases should be expunged from all writing everywhere:
- as a result of
- in order to
- to help facilitate
- seek to find, seek to establish, seek to understand (or really, seek to [any verb])
And my personal peeve:
- due to the fact that